Thursday, December 19, 2013

Above 50% Journalists Imprisoned Worldwide From China, Iran, Turkey - CPJ

(Pic. courtesy CPJ)


Three countries – Turkey, Iran and China – incarcerated more than half the number of journalists imprisoned worldwide in 2013 says a statement by the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) on a study done by the organisation’s editorial director Elena Beiser.


 In the details however, the figures released by CPJ differ significantly with statistics compiled by the Paris-based Reporters without Borders (RSF). Both media watchdogs have reviewed the threat to media freedom in 2013 by examining the number of journalists incarcerated in connection with their work. RSF has however examined the threat under other categories as well – journalists killed, abducted, forced to flee and threatened/harassed. (for more details, please see this blog’s posting yesterday).

According to CPJ’s calculation 211 journalists were imprisoned in 2013. The figure reflects the number incarcerated at 12.01 a.m. on December 1, 2013, and do not include those released during the year in review. RSF calculates that 178 journalists were in prison as on December 16.

CPJ said that the number of journalists in prison this year, although down from 232 in 2012, is the second worst from the time it has began keeping records in 1990. On three worst offenders it said: “Intolerant governments in Ankara, Tehran, and Beijing used mostly anti-state charges to silence a combined 107 critical reporters, bloggers, and editors.”

However, CPJ and RSF differ on the details of the worst offenders. According to CPJ, Turkey with 40 imprisoned journalists is the worst. However to RSF that dubious distinction belongs to China (30). Below are is a table with the first few countries ranked by the two organisations:

China
30
Turkey
40
Eretria
28
Iran
35
Turkey
27
China
32
Iran
20
Eretria
22
Syria
20
Vietnam
18
Uzbekistan
09
Syria
12
Ethiopia
05
Azerbaijan
08
Egypt
04
Ethiopia
07
Bahrain
04
Egypt
05
DRC
03
Uzbekistan
04
India;
Russia;
Rwanda
Vietnam

02
Bahrain;
Israel/Palestine
Occupied Areas

03

While it is not clear how these figures are able to vary, the discrepancy is nowhere starker than on Vietnam: CPJ refers to 18 incarcerated journalists while RSF to only two. The brief explanations given by the two organisations at the end of their posts on how the statistics were computed do not make it any clearer.

CPJ has observed the following trends emerge from its study:
  • The 211 journalists jailed compares with a record high of 232 imprisoned the previous year. Prior to 2012, the highest number in CPJ’s annual census was 185 in 1996. CPJ has conducted the worldwide survey since 1990.
  • Worldwide, 124 journalists were jailed on anti-state charges such as subversion or terrorism­. That is far higher than any other type of charge, such as defamation or insult, but roughly in line with the proportion of anti-state charges in previous years. In 45 cases, no charges were disclosed at all.
  • Vietnam was holding 18 journalists, up from 14 a year earlier, as authorities intensified a crackdown on bloggers, who represent the country’s only independent press.
  • The number of prisoners rose in Ethiopia, Bahrain, and Somalia, in addition to Vietnam.
  • Countries that appeared on the 2013 prison census after jailing no journalists in the 2012 survey were Jordan, Russia, Bangladesh, Kuwait, Macedonia, Pakistan, and Republic of Congo, in addition to Egypt and the U.S.
  • Eritrea remained Africa’s worst jailer of journalists, with 22 behind bars compared with 28 in 2012. Eritrea is the world’s worst abuser of due process; no Eritrean detainee has ever been publicly charged with a crime or brought before a court for trial.
  • Online journalists accounted for half, 106, of the prisoners. Seventy-nine worked in print.
  • Roughly one-third of the journalists in jail globally were freelancers, a slightly smaller proportion than in other recent years. In 2012, 37 percent of the prisoners were freelancers.
 Summing up, CPJ says that it “believes that journalists should not be imprisoned for doing their jobs. The organization has sent letters expressing its serious concerns to each country that has imprisoned a journalist.”

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